The SEATTLE Demonstrations against the Islamic law Saturday in cities in the US drew counter-protests from people who said they would be stoked unfounded fears and a distorted image of the religion.
Hundreds marched through downtown Seattle, banging drums, cymbals and cowbells behind a large sign that read “Seattle stands with our Muslim neighbors.” The participants chanted “No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here” on their way to the town Hall, while a member of the bike police officers separated them from an anti-Sharia rally numbering in the dozens.
In front of the Trump building in the heart of Chicago, about 30 people demonstrated against the Islamic law and in favor of President Donald Trump, shouting slogans and holding signs with the text “Ban on Sharia” and “Sharia abuse of women’. About twice as many counter-protesters guide to the other side of the street.
A similar scene played in a park in the vicinity of New York courthouse, where counter-protesters sounded air horns and banged pots and pans in an attempt to silence an anti-Sharia rally.
“The theme of today is drowning out racism,” said counter-protester Tony Murphy, who in addition to protesters with colorful earbuds. “The more racists are given a platform, the more people are attacked.”
The rallies, held in more than two dozen U.S. cities, were organized by ACT for America, claims that Islamic law is incompatible with Western democracy.
The organization said it opposes discrimination and supports the rights of which are subject to the Sharia. However, the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls it the largest American anti-Islamic group.
“I do not believe that Islam can peacefully co-exist with the Constitution,” said Seattle anti-Sharia-demonstrator Aaron Bassford, 29. “I’m not going to tell them they can come here and take away my Second Amendment right. We need unity in this country, no ideology and no banner with the exception of the Constitution of the United States of America.”
But the vast majority of Muslims do not want to replace AMERICAN law with Islamic law, known as Sharia, and only “radical extremist groups” would be called, said Liyakat Takim, a professor of Islamic studies at McMaster University in the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario.
Sharia, Takim said, referring to directives or principles — how Muslims should live. “Fiqh” refers to case law, or specific laws. The values embedded in the Sharia law is not changed, and are shared among Muslims, he said, while allah is open to interpretation and change, and in fact differs between the Islamic sects and communities.
“The Qur’an allows slavery, so the Old Testament. That does not mean that we allow it today,” Takim said. “Laws are susceptible to change.”
The marches come amid an increase in reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the US, including arson attacks and vandalism at mosques, harassment of women wearing Islamic head coverings and bullying of Muslim school children.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, the demonstrations were mostly peaceful until some people leaving a rally in the Capitol occurred against demonstrators outside.
A confrontation that included pulling and punching occurred, The Star Tribune reported. The Minnesota State Patrol separated from the groups and it seemed at least one arrest.
In California, a small but noisy demonstrations were held in a handful of cities, including San Bernardino, a man and a woman, inspired by the Islamic State group, 14 people have been killed and wounded 22 in 2015 shooting attack.
Clusters of protesters and counter-protesters gathered on the four corners of an intersection at a memorial for the fallen soldiers. Anti-Islamic law protesters marched past the building where the shooting took place.
Denise Zamora, 39, of Upland said that the group is not against all Muslims. “We are anti-Sharia. We are anti-radicals,” she said.
“It comes in very slowly, and many of the refugees and bring that ideology here,” Zamora said of the Sharia. “It is simply barbaric.”
No arrests were made at the San Bernardino rally, and there were no reports of violence, police spokeswoman Eileen Hards said.
But it was small, with groups of singing, shouting, and waving American flags and posters proclaiming various causes.
“There is an anti-Trump, a pro-Trump, anti-extremists, so there are a number of the posts here,” Hards said. “There are so many posts going on that I’m not sure who is who.”
Associated Press writers Andrew Selsky in Portland, Oregon; Deniz Cam in New York, Jeff Karoub in Detroit; Kimberlee Kruesi in Boise, Idaho; Robert Jablon in Los Angeles, Michael Tarm in Chicago contributed to this report.